Since announcing The Bulletin’s editorial stance on climate change opinion pieces last week, there’s been some confusion from readers as to the newspaper’s reasons and goals.
Let’s clarify. The Bulletin is taking an editorial stand that climate change — global warming — is, indeed, taking place. Opinion pieces that refute that is happening simply can’t deny the argument and only confuse the issue. They must aim to enlighten readers with arguments rooted in facts. And if we determine the facts lack legitimacy, the opinion piece will not run. Our belief is letters from readers who claim that mankind is not playing a role in the expansion of global warming are also propagating a myth.
That is not to say that we are refusing to allow a debate on climate change policies, and even the science of climate change, to a degree. Those who question the policies or projects aimed at climate change will have a voice on our editorial pages. As the saying goes, though, letter writers are entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.
The city of Bend is instituting a climate change initiative. That is fair game for all sides to weigh in on. How will it be implemented? Who will it affect economically? Are the policies the right fit for this rapidly growing community?
In another example, Portland Public schools is launching a climate change curriculum for grades K-8 and Portland General Electric is investing $250,000 in the effort. What will be taught about climate change? Where did the information come from?, How well will it be vetted?
This week, the Oregon Public Health Association and 40 other health groups declared climate change a public health emergency, calling on the governor and state lawmakers to take action. They are recommending 10 policies in their “Call to Action” plan that would move the state closer to meeting its climate goals. The devil is in the details, so the press and public should pay close attention to how this plan plays out.
Then there are various national surveys about climate change, such as Yale University program on Climate Change Communication. In 2015, that survey said that Central Oregon believes that climate change is affecting the planet, but residents are more aligned on what to do about it than what’s driving the change.
As EO Media Group — the parent company of The Bulletin — gears up for a yearlong look at climate change in Oregon, it, too, will do a more localized survey of Oregonians to get an up-to-date reality check about the issue.
But back to the editorial pages. We plan to bring those who study the climate change issue — but have opposing views — together in a point, counterpoint discussion on our opinion pages. That way, the readers can see both sides of an issue at the same time and decide for themselves. We will pose a question that each author will respond to. For example, we may ask about past dire predictions of climate change, which have not always become reality; what makes this round of concern different?
We are not trying to squelch the discussion. The goal here is a better informed public, presented with the best data on global warming to date.
It is understandable that for some this is a passionate issue; that not all issues involving climate change are settled. And the economic impacts of taking action today are not clear yet.
We are seeking a civil discussion of the issue. Oftentimes, people attack each other personally, rather than taking a dispassionate look at the issue. We want both sides to listen to each other and, perhaps, reach some middle ground.
It comes down to this. Isn’t it better to take action today than to do nothing? Isn’t it better to be off by a few years on predictions about what climate change might do — and strive to lessen mankind’s impact — than to pass the problem on to our children and grandchildren?
We hope to keep this conversation going and readers will see it detailed in our news pages and opinion pages. We hope all our readers continue to remain involved in this important topic.